Wednesday, January 19

We still know too little

Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre took and Conservative leader Erna Solberg both have reason to question the other’s pandemic handling.

In the third year of corona, we still know too little about how the various infection control measures work. That is unacceptable.

This is a leader. The leader expresses VG’s attitude. VG’s political editor is responsible for the leader.

Professor Steinar Holden led the committee which, under Erna Solberg’s government, evaluated the socio-economic consequences of the corona measures in three rounds. The Holden Committee’s latest report from that time points out that the balance between the costs of strict measures and the health benefits will change when a sufficient number of people have been vaccinated.

Worst in the winter

Now we’re there. And Holden is calling for more knowledge about today’s measures. It’s completely in place. Already a month ago, the National Institute of Public Health proposed that a new committee be set up to review the costs and benefits of the various infection control measures. We still have not seen anything of this.

The Ministry of Health has announced that it will initiate such work in good time before the corona strategy is revised in April.

But we live in the middle of the measures now. They have a very high cost for very many. Both human and financial. From what we have experienced so far, it is in the winter that the virus is most intense. In the last two years, the infection has calmed down through the spring, and we have had something close to normal summers. It is precisely through the coming winter months that we need more knowledge about what works – and what does not work.

Letter on «Final evaluation»

Again, we see that the authorities are too ill-prepared for what is to come. The corona itself came as a surprise to Erna Solberg’s government, in March 2020. And omikron came unexpectedly to Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre and his people, late this autumn.

Professor Steinar Holden assessed the corona measures’ socio-economic consequences in three rounds while Erna Solberg was Prime Minister. He is now calling for more knowledge about the costs of the measures.

Many must take responsibility for this. Part of the picture is that the Solberg government in September last year probably gave too strong an impression that they had brought us safely through the pandemic, and that it was over. There is also reason to ask whether they, on duty, sufficiently obtained an overview of the capacity in the health care system, and made sure to upgrade where needed.

Aftenposten was able to report this weekend that the Ministry of Justice, at the very end of Erna Solberg’s reign, sent out a letter to all ministries and underlying agencies with the title “Final evaluation”. The letter asked them to carry out a “self-evaluation and a final evaluation for the ministries”. It was, of course, about the pandemic. Today, it seems strange to send out such a letter at the beginning of October last year, just before Støre’s new government took over.

Continued support

Støre and his people, for their part, seem to have taken too little account of the fact that we were not done with the pandemic at all. That’s weird. The health authorities have constantly emphasized that new waves may occur, and that new measures may be needed. Støre and his people should immediately start what the previous government had not done for a long time – gather knowledge about the effect and consequences of the various measures.

It has to happen. Now. We have no time to lose. It is about finding the right measures at the right time. And not least – to ensure continued support for the measures among most people.

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